Published by: Rodale Books
Price: INR 1039
Have you ever picked up a solitary raisin, observed its tiny wrinkles and deep rich colour before placing it in your mouth to feel the burst of flavour and unique texture? And then chewed it with awareness, swallowing the little morsels, paying attention as it went down the gullet?
Three weeks ago, I experienced this Raisin meditation, inspired by an exercise in the book. Until then, the norm was to shove a handful of raisins quickly into the mouth and chew them unceremoniously, registering a generic sweet taste, while the mind juggled thoughts about the bills due to be paid, the doctor appointment to be scheduled for the child, the deadline for the project looming up, as the hands tapped away at the keyboard.
This book offers a practical plan for finding, or rediscovering, a way to slow down and achieve calmness amidst the chaos around.
The primary focus is meditation based on Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy [MBCT]. Mindfulness is about observing the self without criticism or indifference, while being compassionate and unperturbed.
The book is divided into 12 chapters. Chapter One provides an overview of the book. Chapters Two and Three lay out the context with examples to help us recognise the detrimental patterns we might have adopted, and how MBCT can help. Chapter Four gives a week-by-week summary of the eight week programme. Chapters five through 12 walk us through the eight-week programme, one chapter per week. We are free to practise each step for more than a week and proceed at our own pace. There are practical, simple exercises for each week that are conveniently listed in a box. Audio tracks for the guided meditations in the programme [available online] are soothing and instructive.
The takeaway message is that, when we are conscious of what we are doing and feeling in the moment, as we are experiencing it, we become better equipped to find that place of stillness within us that can lead to peace and contentment under all circumstances. And, meditation is a means to that end.
There is no goal per se to reach at the end and check off as done. Self-awareness is an ongoing process. The book helps us realise it with a practical guided approach.